Baseball America

College Top 25 Chat: March 31

Moderator: Aaron Fitt will chat about the new Top 25 at 2:30 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Taylor from Houston asks:

Texas A&M went 4-0 last week, capped off by sweeping a decent Kansas ball club in Lawrence. Why aren’t they in the Top 25?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Hello everyone, let’s get right to business. Texas A&M, Oregon
State and Southern Mississippi were the three most worthy teams omitted
from this week’s rankings, I believe, and all three were close to
breaking through, but each had warts. In A&M’s case, the problem is
a lack of real quality wins. The Aggies lost a series against the only
top 25-caliber opponent they’ve faced all year, Oklahoma State. They’ve
won series against Texas Tech and Kansas, which are decent but probably
not regional teams. In fact, other than the one win out of three
against Oklahoma State, I don’t think A&M has beaten a single
sure-fire regional team this year. Ohio State should be in the mix, but
it’s not a lock. When it comes down to it, Cal State Fullerton has
fared pretty well against a much, much harder schedule, so the Titans
got the last spot.

 Q:  Marty from Wilmington, DE asks:

Aaron,

Midway through the regular season, what have been the biggest single game and series upsets? Thanks

Aaron,

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Northern Colorado giving Arizona State its only loss of the year has
got to be the greatest single-game upset. As for series upset, there’s
not one that really sticks out, but I was pretty darn surprised by
Alabama taking a series from Vanderbilt, so I might go with that one
for now. Also in the running: Duke over Virginia, though that Duke team
is pretty solid. Those guys are getting better every year, but Virginia
still had the more talented roster by a significant roster.

 Q:  Chad from San Diego asks:

As
UCLA continues to play average baseball, you continue to keep them
ranked… Is this based on the fact that you ranked them pre-season #1?
Talent a side, they have not played like a Top 25 team for 1 week this
year… Why are they still ranked?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Uhh . . . they did just go on the road and take two out of three
against an undeniably talented (if struggling) Arizona team that went
28-4 at home last year. And the fact that we had UCLA No. 1 in the
preseason obviously does play a factor in having the Bruins still
ranked — some 12-10 team that started the year unranked certainly
wouldn’t be in the top 25 right now. But the Bruins have fallen from
No. 1 to No. 23, so clearly we’re hitting them for their struggles. But
there’s a reason they were No. 1 to begin with: their talent is
supreme. We understand that eventually you’ve got to translate your
talent into results, and if the Bruins had lost that series this
weekend, they would have been gone. Instead, they bought themselves
more time.

 Q:  Marty from Wilmington, DE asks:

Aaron,

Future question. Who will be the first to reach a regional, Duke, Maryland, BC or Virginia Tech? Thanks

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Duke.

 Q:  CN from Arizona asks:

Who do you think will win the Pac-10 this year? Do you think ASU’s bullpen is getting stronger?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Clearly right now Arizona State is the team to beat, and it would be
silly to pick anybody else. But… Cal’s offense isn’t so far behind
ASU’s, and its bullpen might be the best in the country, and it has a
veteran rotation anchored by an All-American in Tyson Ross. And don’t
laugh, but UCLA is in fine shape right now; its pre-conference record
has absolutely zero bearing on the Pac-10 race. Right now UCLA is 2-1
in the Pac-10 and won’t have to play Arizona again. Catching the
Wildcats at the right time could be a major advantage, because I feel
awfully confident that Andy Lopez and his staff will right the ship by
the time Stanford and ASU have to face Arizona in May.

 Q:  Taylor from Houston asks:

Rice
and Texas are in trouble, aren’t they? How does Rice drop only a few
spots after losing 3 games to unranked opponents – 2 at home?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Who would you have us move up in front of those teams? Please try to
remember that the rankings do not happen in a vacuum, and you must
consider the teams around you in the rankings. This week, our No. 12,
13, 14, 15, 18 and 20 teams all lost weekend series. We moved up teams
No. 16, 17 and 19, but all those other teams losing cushioned
everyone’s decline.

 Q:  Josh from Omaha,Ne asks:

What
do you think of the surprising start Nebraska has had this year, do you
think they are legit…or will they fade down the stretch?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I don’t think Nebraska will win the Big 12, but I do think it’s a
definite regional team, which I wouldn’t have said in the preseason.
Remember, we liked Nebraska heading into last year, but off-field stuff
derailed a talented team. A lot of that talent is back this year, and
more importantly the chemistry is much better. The ‘Huskers are also
very experienced, leading me to believe they probably won’t crumble
down the stretch.

 Q:  eric from houston asks:

What is the status of Petey Paramore and his leg injury? Do you know a timetable for his return yet?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Reports out of Arizona say doctors are still looking at it, but the
good news is they have ruled out a broken leg. We’ll have more when
more information becomes available.

 Q:  Marty from Wilmington, DE asks:

Aaron,

I know it’s very early, but who are your top candidates to replace Ron Polk at MSU next year?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
My gut says Daron Schoenrock winds up being the choice, though I think
current MSU assistants Tommy Raffo and Russ McNickle should be given a
hard look.

 Q:  Ray from Portland Or asks:

Does SDSU have a chance of recracking the top 25 with a sweep of Houston and a win over UCLA?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The Aztecs are still a little ways from getting back into the rankings,
but they have at least put themselves back in the discussion by
recovering nicely after losing six out of eight in early March. I have
come to think San Diego State is the favorite to win the MWC. One key:
the Aztecs get TCU at home this year.

 Q:  Matt from Santa Ana, CA asks:

Which slow-starting So-Cal shortstop gets drafted first and where: Espinosa (who I heard is a Boras guy) or Crawford?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I still think Crawford gets drafted higher — just a lot more offensive
upside, though he’s got his bugaboos. Really needs to cut down on his
strikeouts.

 Q:  Jonathan W. from North Carolina asks:

I
keep hearing that LHP Christian Friedrich from Eastern Kentucky is a
first round pick. Where do you see him getting drafted? I have heard
from a local scout he may be third or fourth pick in draft. Is this
true?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
He’s a lock first-rounder and a candidate to go in the top 10 picks. I
wouldn’t be surprised to see him sneak up to the top three or four
picks, because he’s polished and lefthanded and a safe bet, but there
are a dozen other players with more upside who could go first. Top half
of the first round seems likely though.

 Q:  Chad from Hattiesburg, MS asks:

Wow.
3-1 this past week over ranked opponents, which includes a series win
AT Rice (first time thats happened since they joined CUSA) and not
mentioning a series win over UCF the weekend before. What do they have
to do to crack your top 25, and where do you see them finishing in the
league?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Southern Miss obviously put itself squarely in the top 25 discussion
today, but it came down to the fact that Cal State Fullerton swept the
Golden Eagles when the two teams met head-to-head, and Fullerton has
played an even tougher schedule overall, so the Titans got the nod.

 Q:  Alex from Wichita asks:

17
in a row for the Shocks now, Capra has done well has the third weekend
starter. Where do you rank the shocks rotation and is there any series
that you are looking forward to seeing?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Wichita might have the most underrated weekend rotation in the nation.
Rob Musgrave and Anthony Capra aren’t overpowering, but they can really
pitch, and Capra in particular has been outstanding, using his 87-90
mph fastball and excellent changeup to rack up strikeouts. Aaron Shafer
has the most upside of the group and has pitched well also. I suspect
Wichita will run away with the Missouri Valley Conference this year,
but this weekend against Missouri State should be a bit of a test, at
least.

 Q:  James from Rome,WI asks:

I
love Mimi and am a huge Hurricane fan but isn’t it kind of hard to
figure them out because they really haven’t played anyone real good yet?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Their schedule so far has been underwhelming, but the Hurricanes have
talent, and everybody knows it. Their lineup has a track record — they
don’t have to prove anything. The pitching staff is another story; we
still don’t know how good that staff is, but Enrique Garcia looked
awfully strong on Saturday and seems to have turned a corner, which is
huge.

 Q:  Paul Jr. from Westlake Village, CA asks:

Michigan
had a solid conference opening weekend. Do you see them running away
with the Big 10 title? Also, is the Big 10 a one bid conference this
year?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I do see Michigan running away with that league. The Wolverines’ talent
is on a completely different level with the rest of the league. I do
think Minnesota and Ohio State have played strong enough schedules to
earn an at-large bid if one of them can put together a strong Big Ten
season. It’ll probably be a two-bid league, unless all those other
teams beat each other up and no clear No. 2 team emerges.

 Q:  from asks:

WITH THE BAD WEEKEND, DID YOUR OPINION CHANGE ON HOW GOOD OF A TEAM IS MISSOURI?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Certainly not. You can’t dismiss a team with an incredibly talented
pitching staff that has been outstanding for five weeks just because it
lost one very competitive conference road series.

 Q:  Daniel from Trenton, NJ asks:

How
do you feel about the big east conference? Also how do you St.John’s
this year in Regional play? Is this the year they make it over the hump
and get to Supers?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I’ve been slightly disappointed by the Big East’s mediocrity so far
this year, but I know those Northern teams are always going to start
slow because of their weather disadvantage. Still, South Florida has no
excuse to be 13-13, and I figured Notre Dame, Cincinnati and Louisville
would have fared better in nonconference play. St. John’s is the class
of that league, but Louisville should still be a factor. I look forward
to that huge series next weekend. West Virginia has been the big
surprise in the league so far, but I think the Mountaineers will fade
once they start playing the league’s heavyweights; they dropped two out
of three against a mediocre Rutgers team this weekend. St. John’s,
though, has enough pitching to run through a regional.

 Q:  james m from bradenton, fl asks:

Any reason tho think that FSU has enough hitting to overcome it’s horrendous defense? Will they ever make it back to Omaha?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I don’t think it’ll happen this year, but I’ve been wrong before.

 Q:  Eric from Berkeley asks:

What
is your opinion on the Cal Bears, you take all these quesitons on the
dirt gags. Well they were swept by David Esquer and the bears. What are
you thoughts on how they will do in the Pac this year, and will they
not get screwed out of regional play, as they have been the past two
out of the three years.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Yeah, I’ve talked so much more about the Dirtbags than the Golden Bears
today … come on, Eric from Berkeley! I love Cal’s chances in the
Pac-10, as I’ve discussed, but I think they’re likely to be
disappointed with their regional draw anyway because of their
inadequate facilities, which will prevent them from hosting. That’s a
shame.

 Q:  Paul from Carlsbad asks:

Great
weekend in college baseball. I am ok if the Waves sit at #26 all year
long (must be 3 or 4 weeks in a row now) as long as they make a run in
the postseason. What do you think of there chances, if Hunter comes
back? P.S. Thames has to be openning eyes!

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Well, the Waves lost their honorary No. 26 spot last weekend when they
dropped that series against Oregon State. They remain squarely on the
radar, but they’re no longer next in line. Hunter coming back healthy
is the key, obviously. The rest of that pitching is decent, but they
need the frontline guy so everyone else can settle into their proper
roles. If that happens, that’s a balanced club capable of winning a
regional.

 Q:  Heath from Kansas asks:

What do you think of Wichita State’s current 17 game win streak and how close are they to cracking the top 10?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The win streak is nice because it’s hard to win 17 in a row against
anybody, but that competition level (aside from TCU) is low. At this
point, the Shockers could wind up in the top 10 by default, if the
teams in front of them keep losing.

 Q:  John from Oxford, MS asks:

I
am a huge Rebels fan, and I cannot grasp why they are struggling so
much this season. Thank you for dropping them out of the top 25 because
they definitely do not deserve it. Anyway, I hope it lights a fire
under them, and they will begin to play better.
Do you think the Rebels will wake up or is this team just drastically
overrated?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I really don’t get it either. On paper, all the ingredients are there,
and they haven’t had any notable injuries. Just one of those little
funks that teams sometimes go into. I do think the Rebels will turn it
around, however, and will be a major factor late.

 Q:  Mike Smith from Hattiesburg, Mississippi asks:

Does how a team plays on the field matter anymore on how you guys rank a team, or is it just because of their name?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
If St. Mary’s Sisters of the Blind swept Arizona State head-to-head,
and both teams had comparable resumes, and we had to pick one of those
two teams to fill one spot, we’d take St. Mary’s Sisters of the Blind.
I’m sorry, Southern Miss fans, you got swept head-to-head by Cal State
Fullerton. Name recognition has got nothing to do with it.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:

This weekend proved that Missouri is human, but Aaron Crow is not. Is he the favorite to go #1? Thanks.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think he is, but Brian Matusz hasn’t really let him get comfortable.
It’s just amazing that the two best pitchers in the nation are also
performing accordingly. The Rays are going to have an awfully tough
choice to make.

 Q:  Jamie R from tampa, fl asks:

Is Buster Posey hitting his way into the top ten picks? Where do you suspect he gets drafted at this point?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: My prediction: Nationals at No. 9.

 Q:  Carlos from San Diego, CA asks:

Let’s
get the rivalry going heading into the USC-UCLA series this weekend. I
know they’re a year apart but which SS do you like better- USC’s G.
Green or UCLA’s B. Crawford?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I’ve been a Crawford supporter for a long time, but questions about his
hit tool and approach linger, and Green’s tools are loud. He’s gotten
off to an even slower start than Crawford, but I think Green might wind
up as the better player in pro ball. Both have significant upside but
significant questions.

 Q:  Carlos from San Diego, CA asks:

Is
USD’s offense going to be the reason they fall short this year? Aside
from Victor Sanchez, do they have any young guys who could step up
offensively?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The sleeper is freshman Zach Walters, a hard-nosed player with a smooth
swing and solid approach. Stephen Kaupang, another freshman, was
supposed to provide a major power boost, but he’s been a disappointment and probably won’t be a factor this year.

 Q:  Smitty from Jville, Fla asks:

Would
really like to hear your rationale for ranking UNC over Fla. State? UNC
has had a very soft schedule with home losses to Old Dominion, NC State
and Coastal Carolina. They have also lost games to cellar dwellers
Maryland & Duke. In the mean time, FSU has a sweep over Ga Tech
along with impressive wins over Georgia & Auburn.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
UNC’s pitching is light years better than Florida State’s, which is why
UNC was ranked fifth in the preseason and FSU was unranked. Sure, if
you were stacking up the teams from scratch based solely on their
on-field resumes, with no previous rankings to draw upon, you’d take
Florida State, because FSU does have a better resume — I won’t argue
with you there. But UNC has taken care of business and still hasn’t
lost a weekend series, so we’ve had no reason to drop the Tar Heels.
The Seminoles have climbed from out of the rankings all the way up to
No. 6, but they can’t pass UNC until the Tar Heels falter. Poll
mechanics dictate that you can’t just throw a team’s previous ranking
out the window.

 Q:  Blackie from Cincinnati, OH asks:

Hi
Aaron. We’ve heard about a lot of the big name freshmen so far (Kyle
Blair, Victor Sanchez, Hunter Morris) but what are the projections on
some lesser-known guys like Derek Dietrich, Josh Adams, and red-shirt
Bryan Morgado?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think this will be the last question for today. Morgado looks like
the best long-term prospect out of that group. He’s come back very
strong from surgery and is throwing 90-94 mph from the left side with a
good slider and changeup. He, Graham Stoneburner and Shawn Tolleson are
three outstanding redshirt freshmen who could find themselves drafted
in the first round in a year or two. Dietrich and Adams are winner, and
Dietrich’s impact bat could make him a first-rounder in a few years as
well. Adams is undersized and will have to prove himself at every step,
but he’s a heck of a player.

Aaron Fitt: That’s all for today. Thanks stopping by.

College | #2008 #Chat

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